Your outside central air unit is one of the most important parts of your HVAC system. Yet many people neglect to properly care for it. That’s a mistake because it’s exposed to the elements year-round. If debris blocks the condenser coils, the unit can overheat, break down, and require expensive repairs. You can avoid these problems by scheduling annual AC tune-ups and by performing the following tasks yourself:

  • 1) Remove Debris: Check the outside unit regularly for leaves, twigs, grass clippings, and other debris and brush away any buildup you find. Wear gloves when removing large pieces of debris that are stuck in the unit.
  • 2) Clean the Condenser Fins: Follow the manual for how to open the unit and access the interior. Make sure the unit, electrical disconnect, and circuit breaker are off, and then vacuum the condenser fins using a soft brush attachment. Be careful not to bend the fins.
  • 3) Clean/Replace the Filter: If the outdoor unit has a filter, clean or replaces it as recommended by the manufacturer. A dirty filter will restrict airflow and reduce the performance and efficiency of the entire system.
  • 4) Hose Off the Unit: Use your garden hose at medium pressure and clean the outside central air unit from top to bottom. Make sure to remove all loose debris.
  • 5) Use a Coil Cleaner: Spray a coil cleaner onto the outside unit and wait 10 to 15 minutes. The cleaner will foam and bond with stubborn dirt on the coils. Then rinse the coil cleaner off with your hose.
  • 6) Realign the Fins: Fins can become bent from pressure washing and pressure from foliage, landscaping activities, falling twigs, and hail. Straighten any bent fins with a fin comb. Or, you can use a dinner knife to gently straighten a bent fin. Don’t insert it more than ½ inch into the assembly.
  • 7) Maintain the Insulation: If the insulation around your outdoor AC lines has rotted or become damaged, replace it. Insulation helps improve efficiency and prevent the unit from working harder.
  • 8) Keep Vegetation Away: Grass, shrubs, flowers, and other plants should be trimmed back and removed within 2 feet of the unit on all sides.
  • 9) Trim Nearby Trees: Remove overgrown or dead branches to prevent trees from encroaching on the outside central air unit or a heavy branch from falling on it.
  • 10) Properly Install Fencing: If protecting the unit with fencing, allow enough clearance for service and repairs and use open fencing that will allow proper airflow.
  • 11) Keep Gates Locked: Closing gates helps deter theft as does hiding the unit with landscaping so long as plants and other items are left at least 2 feet away.
  • 12) Don’t Wrap the Unit: Do not wrap the condenser with plastic after the summer. This will trap moisture, cause the unit to rust, and attract pests. Instead, place a piece of plywood on top and weigh it down with bricks to protect the outside central air unit from various hazards.


Schedule Annual Maintenance from Tri County Air

Our AC maintenance services include detailed inspections, complete AC tune-ups, and high-tech diagnostics. During an inspection, our technicians check all system components and electrical connections. Outside central air units are thoroughly washed to make sure the coils are clean and no debris is left behind. Our membership plans include annual service performed by a qualified technician. To learn more about our membership options and to schedule HVAC service, contact us online or call (941) 485-2222 today.